Forget the outdated concept of room service and embrace the newest trend in the hospitality industry: the hotel pantry. The pantry is available to meets the needs of your guests when they are looking for a light snack, quick meal or even some aspirin after a long day of traveling. This recent hospitality trend has become a brand standard for many hotel brands, such as Marriott International’s “The Market” and Hilton’s “Pantry Pavilion” and “Suite Shop.” These pantries are a great source of revenue, however, when in the beginning stages of planning a pantry for your hotel, how do you select the right products and categories that will best meet the needs of your guests while ensuring you’re earning a profit and making the offering worthwhile? You must keep a few things in mind when developing your hotel pantry assortment. First, you must decide what categories should be included as pantry necessities, such as sweet snacks, salty snacks, healthy snacks, quick meals, ice cream, frozen dinners, and travel size amenities. Then, what are the best sellers in each of those categories? You will be able to determine these categories based on market research.

  1. Stick with what you know. Offer popular products that your guests search for when stepping into a pantry. Some hotels want to stand out by offering only regional items or organic products. This can be beneficial, but national brands typically outsell specialty items 4 to 1. Research has shown that guests, especially families and business travelers, prefer comfort foods from well-known brands while they are traveling rather than trying something they have not had before. By offering items that guests are familiar with, sales and guest satisfaction will rise.
  2. Use room rates as budget indicators. The room rate of a guest’s hotel is a great indicator of their travel budget and should be factored in when selecting the offerings in a pantry. For example, a guest who is willing to pay $200 per night to stay at a hotel is more likely to pay $7 for a pint of premium ice cream such as Ben & Jerry’s or Haagen Dazs. However, a guest who chose an economy hotel at a $49 per night rate is more likely to opt for an inexpensive ice cream product in the $3-4 range, such as Klondike or Good Humor novelties. Studies have also shown that generic or guests, no matter what their budget, do NOT usually prefer low budget items because they are normally associated with being low quality. If these products are stocked in the pantry, you will find that they will not sell as quickly, even if they are a low price.
  3. The bigger the better. You’ll find that guests typically purchase the 20oz soda, the King Sized chocolate bar, and the large “grab bag” chips. These products sell better and faster, presenting an opportunity for larger profits. Market retail analysis of over 400 Marriott Markets shows that King Size beverages, candy bars, and potato chips outsell their normal size counterpart across all categories where a king size alternative is offered. To put it into perspective, the single serve 1 oz bag of Lays can be purchased from your food service company for about $.35 each (depending on your negotiated price) and can be sold in the pantry for $1.00. That’s about a 200% markup and $.65 profit per bag. However, a king size or grab bag size (2.25 oz) Lays sells wholesale for about $.65 and can retail in a hotel pantry for $2.00 or more. That’s about a 225% markup and $1.35 profit per bag. These simple size options can greatly increase your profits.
  4. Switch things up. Guests want options – not just in the number of products being offered, but also in the categories available. A guest should be able to walk into the pantry and find a satisfying solution to for cravings. This means that if a guest needs to satisfy a sweet tooth, he should have several choices to choose from, including chocolate, cookies, and candy. If the guest comes in and is trying to stick to a diet, he should be able to select from a variety of healthy products like energy bars, trail mix, or Lean Cuisine meals.
  5. Remember! Travel size assortments and single serve over-the-counter medicines are very popular sellers, but are commonly overlooked by hotels. These products allow you to meet the needs of your guests while earning a healthy profit, since most wholesale for under a dollar and can be sold for $2.00 or more. When properly supplied and merchandised, these assortments fall in the top five for all pantry offerings.

No matter what region or guest profile being served, the convenience of a well-supplied pantry market can greatly improve guest loyalty and increase sales for hotel operators. Selecting the right offerings is the first step towards hotel retail success. Source1 Purchasing is a leading strategic supply chain management group focused on cost management, savings and operational efficiencies for the hospitality industry and offers a wide assortment of products to stock your hotel pantry in order to increase your profitability and guest satisfaction. To learn more about the Source1 Program and how it can benefit your hotel operations and efficiency, visit our website at www.Source1Purchasing.com.

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